tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 3, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
itself in conflict and how do you engage in different groups that might be in a different phase of their religious formation or for example if a group feels under existential threat, the language they use that may be more exclusivist or fear-based black and white could shift sometimes to a call to violence. but is it going to be violent some some is hate speech going to trigger violence? we're learning how on look at language usage. isn't mean someone expressing themselves in hateful ways will be violent. so our job is to look at that space of violence, not necessary lit space of free speech and religion, but it's important to
track language. other language on the other end of the spectrum might be textbook language. you might be an episcopal priest or faith-based organization. and you may use faith-based language, but you function almost along secular humanitarian prip he wi humanitarian principles, but your belief underpins that work. how to engage on that spectrum is another approach that is what most embassies would be used to working with. catholic relief services, islamic relief and is everythin between. after a war, religious groups may be in a period of questioning or recovery or wondering how to find their way and navigate the reconstruction of their country and of their communities after violence. so that is another space of engagement which is more one might say almost trauma recovery
after war, how is it your humanitarian work, community based outreach, can minister in ways that are open and ripe for partnership. so all of this just gives you a flavor of what has been happening at the state department in terms of policy. what is the intention on the ground. and i think actually i'd say the working group we're working on right now is looking at the possibility of a global covenant using some religiously infused language. because the prince of jordan and king of jordan have asked for a response from the united nations but also world religious leaders including the pope, archbishop of canterbury and others, to take a look at how do we respond to the type of violence that we're seeing that seems that it's politically and religiously
infused. what can we do to protect belief, protect practices, and also protect groups and even sacred sites for example that are trigger points and flash points for violence. so i would say the global cuff napt initiative is being looked at the by the working group because it's not generated or started by the united states, but we would like to track it and understand how to work and lead from alongside our colleagues around the world in the middle east and elsewhere on looking at this new challenge of religiously motivated or related violence. so i'll close with the three pieces of this. one is just the ul leadership. what is it where he will ters can gather together, almost like pope john paul it in assisi to renounce the collective violence in the name of god or mass killing in the name of religiono renounce the collective violence in the name of god or mass killing in the name of religion to renounce the collective
violence in the name of god or mass killing in the name of religion.renounce the collective in the name of god or mass killing in the name of religion. that is something nonstate actors have to address. so one movement is at that highest level of religious groups talking to each other and developing some declaration. the second level is as i mentioned the u.n. level. nation states have laws and policies against agagenocide, violence and other norms. groups and their practices and their beliefs and their gatherings. their sacred sites. so the u.n. would like to look at the isil question as illustrati illustrative, but wherever we're seeing extreme violence being conducted in the name of religion, what can be preventive to stop that and contain it, but also when is it actually a crime against humanity. these are new international issues that are come being up that are not just nation to nation, but also dealing with
nonstate actors who are committing atrocities. and ngos have been doing this work for some time and they have many best practices. countering violent extremism, promoting relechigion with its positive role. violence takes place at communal level. so what are the best practices, how do people build neighborhood to neighborhood the type of resilient fabric that protects against future violence. whether reconstructing after war or just to prevent future conflict between religious and other communities. so that's a lot, but it's to say 245 in t that in the last couple years, quite a significant shift in how the united states government and our allies have looking at this issue based on lessons we've learned from the past. so thank you for your attention and interest in the topic.
>> i'd like to also thank the middle east institute, carnegie endowment to national peace for organizing and hosting this panel. and also for allan and jerry and ambassador pickering for being here on the panel with me today. jerry gave much of the overview of a lot of the changes at the department. and i just wanted to add one small thing to that which is to highlight the role that the white house strategy on religious leader engagement played in 2013, the white house issued this strategy which is meant to promote government --
usaid and other actors who are engaging in foreign policy work and diplomatic work in order to encourage them to also engage with these communities who are playing at jerry mentioned a very significant role in the world. and if we ignore them, we ignore them to our peril. i want to spend my time talking about a little bit about the work we've done out of the office of special envoy to the oic, organization of islamic corporation, a a little bit of an example of some of the ways we have engaged and worked in collaboration with religious actors in order to promote some of the goals including some of the goals that jerry talked about. so some of you may not be familiar, but the office of the special envoy to the oic was established at the end of the george w. bush administration.
and president obama appointed special envoy rashard vaseen to the position and he gave them the mandate of deepening the partnerships the president announced during his cairo speech. and the cairo speech went through a whole litany of issues sort of the hot topic issues that have been problematic in terms of u.s. relations with the muslim world in general. these cover things from the wars in iraq and afghanistan to counterterrorism policies to human rights issues to democracy promotion. all of these issues. and so our office has worked on a lot of different areas. but one of the areas that we have been working on in particular is to engage with religious communities and religious leaders in our work in order to include them because of the significance role that they play in general and also in particular in muslim societies.
one example i want to give which touches a little bit on what jerry was talking about in terms of the role of the u.n. and how religious communities sometimes define themselves as a group is an issue that we worked on that dealt with the issue of defamation of religions. beginning in 1998, the oic had advocated a resolution at the u.n. on this so-called defamation of religions. it was a resolution that essentially was calling out a lot of the hate speech or discrimination or islam-phobia that many people were identifying in the post-9/11 years in particular, but even before that because this resolution started in 1998 before even 9/11. and the idea behind it in part was to address discrimination against people on the basis of religion. however, the problem that the
united states had with this resolution was that it went a step further, it talked about banning speech and restricting speech and other statements or criticisms that you you can make about religion. and that was problematic for us for a number of reasons, but in particular because freedom of expression we believe is an extremely important human right and we believe that restrictions on human expression not only restrict human rights in that sense, but also they infringe on an individual's ability to exercise their religion freely. so for a number ofyears, weing resolution and when the obama administration came in, we took a defeat that was also to work with the oic on potentially trance following the resolution into a positive. because we shared some of the underlying concerns about discrimination, but we did not
agree with the means. and so in 2011, we worked on an alternative which passed by consensus in the u.n. and it's been called resolution 1618. and that resolution essentially focuses on positive actions that governments can take to address religious tolerance. things like enforcing anti-discrimination laws, education awareness programs, engaging with religious communities. all of these kind of proactive positive measures that we practice in the united states are listed in this resolution and we've been work ever since 2011 on promoting implementation of that resolution. and one of the key waves we've been working on this is with religious communities and religious actors. so as you're undoubtedly aware, this resolution on defamation of religions lines up -- or some governments were using that as a way of justifying or providing
cover for blasphemy laws. they're often used or abused in ways which target religious minorities which often justify communal violence. and so one of the key efforts behind the 1618 effort was to move past that and also to get governments to move away from that. so religious communities and leaders were important domestically and internationally in our engagement in order to slain to th explain that we understand your concerns about hate speech, but the way that this type of approach tries to address that goal in fact doesn't actually work. bans on speech on whiching in the attention people give to that speech and often it's used to repress religious minorities. so we worked on explaining this position not only with governments and the oic directly, but also the religious communities and their support
was important in order to convince various communities and countries in the alternative approach, the 1618 approach. and we have initiated a training program since then to work with interested governments on the specific activities outlined in the resolution and also had a series of meetings focused on best practices. and the last meeting of which was organized in part by the international center for interfaith dialogue. and the focus was on interfaith collaboration. so you you had there human rights advocates, you had members of religious community, religious leaders and government officials all together working on the same shared issue. and it was very interesting to observe because that grouping of
individuals don't often get owing. and it was a nice way of using this initiative to convene a lot of the actors who share the same goals and try to direct them in a way that they can work together on shared policy initiatives. another way that we've used religious engagement is to open new channels of communication through our office, we often are visiting oic member countries and as you may be aware, many of them have been going and are still undergoing democratic transitions. in bahrain in particular, there is been a lot of sectarian tension at thes around the transitions that are happening -- or the national dialogue and the democracy movement there. country. and so on one of the visits, we used our office in order to try to expand the lines of communication that the united states has with actor ares in bahrain.
our government has often met with the opposition party leadership. but up to a certain point last year, we had never head with the spiritual leader of that group. and we took the opportunity for one of the visits to meet with in a religious leader in order to explain to him directly u.s. policy in the country and also to explain our concerns that we had about certain groups that were engaging in violence. and so through that activity, you can kind of open a new relationship with a religious leader to explain to them our positions and also to express concern it s that we have, anin national dialogue and other collective happenings on the ground. and i want to mention one other initiative that we have been working with religious actors on and that is an initiative that a
number of religious scholars in collaboration with the islamic society of north america had developed or worked on which is issuing a declaration on the rights and protection of full citizenship rights for minorities in the muslim world. in our work in the oic, anyone who has been observing this says c space can see there is a very difficult and ongoing problem of violence against religious minorities particular in the middle east and oic countries. that was something we talked about a lot and this initiative was a way of the religious leaders and the community on try to address that. and so there have been meetings by the scholars. and it's not just the scholars, but also ministers of religious affairs from various countries in the middle east and north africa who attended these heatings where there have been
substantive discussions on a framework for a declaration based largely on a well researched paper authored by one of the most influential scholars in the middle east. and so we've been encouraging these actors to continue with this project and are hopeful that it may be concluding by the end of this year or early next year. but this is another example of where we're not directing any actors to do anything. we're not, you know, funding anyone to do anything, but we're engaging on shared goals and engaging in a way that respects these leaders and the authority this they carry and encouraging them in certain ways that also lines up with our goals. so with those example, i'll turn it back to allan. >> thank you very much for
gathering us. and it's a pleasure and hop or honor to have the tupts to say a few word after the distinguished speakers we've already heard thanks to the middle east institute and carnegie, as well, for helping us put it all together. my sense is that this is both a new and old venture. in the inevitable relationship between religion and diplomacy. i thought jerry's approach of seeking three areas or the department's approach through jerry of seeking through areas within which to work makes a great deal of sense. certainly what one would call the broad spectrum of humanitarian work by religions around the globe has always had an appeal, a sense of contributing to the common good, and a feeling of what i would call satisfaction that it trance sended three logical differences
and put into place the values that are widely shared among religions. that in themselves contribute to a more har monmonious and bette globe. i think the dialogue between religious leaders and thought leaders across the spectrum is extremely important. and another way of emphasizing those portions of religious activity which i think epitomized in the first effort through plans of action can be epitomized in the second effort through plans of coordination and then plans of mutual are information and plans of dealing with problem areas that inevitably have come up in the difference between belief systems. and i think the third area is very important and perhaps before i finish i'd like to spend a little bit of time on that conflict resolution. i say this against the backdrop of something i hadn't realized until i actually sat and thought a little bit about it. as i was doing an oral history
long after i retired from the state department. but i had a unique position of being an ambassador first to a muslim country, largely muslim country, jordan, but with an important and significant christian minority. i then went on to nigeria where in effect two great world religions, christianity and islam, had advanced a great deal down the road of conversion and profitizatio informati done so with reasonable harmony, but left a lot in the hands of traditional religion and indeed themselves were heavily influenced by african religious practices. and so while hoe hoe sexualimosn nath made, polygamy is widely winged at. and in many ways, the edges of
christianity and the edges of islam are touched heavily by the development of sin accurate tick secretaries. combines traditional religious ideas with those of the main line reyimg husband communities to which they attach themselves in one way or another. it was an interesting and indeed somewhat eye opening experience. i then went on to a largely traditionally roman catholic country, el salvador, but one that in many ways in the throes of wars was also undergoing a change. and why the religious leadership was split down the middle and played an enormously valuable role in some ways of bringing things together and divisive role in others by failing to
recognize what i would call the trance dental values of the principle system that make things work.dental values of th principle system that make things work. i went from there to the world's only jewish country, israeli, and from there to the united nations which is everything fde arsalan new information. how do we differentiate between faith-based belief system which is protestants largely consider to be individual and the absolute need to develop communication and indeed understanding and corporation on a world scale. and so what you're undertaking is challenging in many ways. ly clearly it is not the world
of diplomats or world leaders to help define theological concepts. it is however the role for all of us to try to bring together those who think and work in the realm of theology. help them in their areas of disagreement hopefully first to do no damage and secondly seek the seeds of commonalty wherever they might exist. i went from there to the world's largest hindu country. you may say the only one, but nepal also fits that model. i was there only a short period of time, but it was extremely interesting the degree too much despite the predominance of hinduism, many other religious experiences including the birth
place of buddhism played a role in indian thinking and ideas. and indeed india had its long history of both common working together and terrible devastation as a result of religious differences. not any different from knows differences which historically have transcended put it will way political harmony in the western world for thousands of years. and which ditch lplomats went t. and then finally i went to russia, still the largest eastern orthodox christian country. but one until just a few eye blinks before i arrived was totally committed atheist. and in many ways these experiences meant that inevitably i had to deal with the pay the tree arc, with the
archbishop. without doing that, i couldn't understand what was happeningtr archbishop. without doing that, i couldn't understand what was happening more or less unable to help to try to make a contribution we american diplomats in some ways are saddled by invisible handcuffs. over the years have served us well, but always need to be reexamined. one of those which is a handcuf that we all share is that we cannot operate outside the constitution of the law, the regulations and the policy. and we must serve those interests. we have the privilege of seeking to change the latter and indeed the task of doing so when it's inadequate. and we have the right to change the law through our elected representatives. and indeed even the constitution with its opencond invisible hans
that we don't do domestic politics. i found the higher up i got a in the state department, the more i had to take it into account. there was no way to convince a president to adopt a foreign policy initiative i was interested in if in fact it was completely antithetical to his domestic political success. that's a reality. but it is a fancily hard one to deal with. and the third was religion. and here we tended to take the constitutional barrier to establishing state religion as a broader barrier against even involving religion, thinking about religion, or talking about it. and this many ways, of course, it was the basis for harmony in this country that we did not use
in whatever ways we could avoid it religious differences as a source of both political and personal gain. and in many ways, that holds true. but it is true that we have to face up with the reality that we live in a world of a large number of tate-based systems which influence greatly how people operate. so as a dip proceedmat in dislo settlement, it was important to understand those particular faith-based systems as much as i could. secondly, to communicate with the leadership in those systems as to how they saw the kinds of issues that i wished to deal with as a diplomat. thirdly, to see how the conjunction of views could be used as a basis for harmonizing and moving processes ahead
rather thannage dati age tanagn dividing they will. each major religious has what i would call its fundamentalist wing. i saw an old friend the prime minister of israel assassinated on what were clearly religious grounds. we have seen among christians the use of violence in this country to destroy people associated with our government because of apparent religious beliefs. and we have seen as well in islam late manifestation is what we call isil or what my friends in the regions call [ speaking foreign language ] and to some extent this presents us with special problems which
we do need to understand. but it was never absent from our military engagement in iraq and ra ra rag over tiraq over the last te years. the problem we must continue to work on and try to solve with our friends in israel and the air rarab world. it's extremely important the gaza truce is broken down again. we need as a first order of business to continue to work on it. the last effort made some progress in the areas of what i would call fundamental change on both sides. we need to find a way to link that particular set of processes to the longer run requirement that we continue to push and do everything we can for the two state solution. and i admire john kerry even in
the aftermath of what is an apparent failure to succeed that he's prepared to take it on. and i don't think he's given up obviously the notion that this is still a major challenge for us and we have to work at it. and being able in many ways to solve the problems which are now a mixture obviously of fear, a fear of annihilation on the part of money. a sense of concern about et anything and ethnic and religious identity and how that will be respected. and a competition over that most fundamental of human goods beyond put it this way salvation. and how and in what way people can live together in differences and at the same time enjoy the value that religious promises that harmony will bring to us as we go ahead. syria and iraq are the center piece of these issues.
and unfortunately, in my view, widely informed if i can use that expression by heavy emphasis on religious differences which over a period of time given good itwigoodwill informed leadership could become the basis for change and indeed rather than the basis for further radicalization and destruction of human life. and we need to accept the challenge that we as a major player in the world seen have of contributing in whatever wi we came to the answers to those problems. i agree with the president that boots on the ground has not turned out to be a very good answer to differences whether they are religiously inspired, motivated or informed. and we need to be careful about that. but i think there are ways
ahead. we now have a world mopping our friends who speak arabic of turmoil and difficulty, of change that has about in large measure through dissatisfaction. i think mainly with secular approaches, but in some cases with religious approaches. and we need to first understand that question and secondly decide how to deal with it. as a diplomat, we never have perfect options. we are always saddled with dealing with people whose frailties we understand, maybe even disdain and would like to change and have very little possibility of doing that. but who we have to inspire obviously to greater accomplishments if i can put it that way through personal motivation, through long run interests in their opwn value system and indeed through the opportunity to make a contribution to their federal
man this should be the highest good but often the worst danger. so there are plenty of things out there for us to come. failure to understand how important religion is in these conflicts is first point of error. the other point of success is to know and indeed cultivate the relationships that can begin to take common understanding forward to make those changes. and i think that the notion that senator kerry had that it is time in an organizational and institutional sense to put the state it tedepartment on that ps very important and very valuable. we need to avoid the traps and pitfalls obviously of going too far into theology and perhaps too little into peace. but if we can keep those two poicht points in mind, i know we will have success and i'm very pleased that jerry and arsalan are making their own personal
contribution to this effort. i compliment them for taking on these tasks and thank them for doing so and thank you very much. >> thank you very much, ambassador pickering. in some ways i'd like to take off from what you've just said to pose some questions both to you and to arsalan and to jerry. i mentioned in my remarks that the middle east is it inflamed and many cases the religious issues are beirut issues. sody p so diplomacy is sometimes at a high level that you talked about, but quite frequently it's how do you get people to stop killing each other over religious issues. whether in iraq or syria or so
on, so forth. so what is the contribution that your work can make to resolving the very issues that ambassador pick erg talked about and maybe you two could talk first and then ambassador pickering, maybe you can sort of give your own thoughts. jerry. >> sure. thank you. i guess to get a little bit more specific on strategies to prevent this mass religiously infused violence, we need to come up with some case studies. so starting at the bottom up approach in terms of ent inter-communal work, religious leading is also needed on the ground where communities don't understand the other very well so it's easy to demonize the other. just recently i've been working and examining the rely of scripture ral reasoning in this
work of increasing tolerance and respect for difference and it's one way that has been largely tried between the abrahamic faiths to have groups study the their scriptures together and have mixed interfaith groups looking at interpretations of passages even related to violence, tolerance and peace. and what happens in the course of the group study is dialogue and relationship building that in fact can be seen to reduce prospects for violence. let's say for example i go into a texture ral study and i believe as a christian that you're bound for hell and i may feel i'm under threat and i must push you there. some people have taken their scripture ral passions to violent ends. in the course of study, you can start to learn with texture ral reasoning and deep are understanding of text that you may still think they're going to hell, but there might be some
interpretation or wiggle room about what is the the exclusion or the need for action. and in that course of just opening up anyone's mind to the possibility that there might be another interpretation of text, not just a literal one of this particular text, we have seen that groups have become more tolerant and started to build relationships. and that can take place in the course of four hour, four days, four months, four years. but in fact people are looking and scanning the globe for techniques that actually get at religious literacy as well as relationship building at the community level. scripture ral reasoning just happens to be one of them used out will. at the community service level, that is soot area people have to look at temperature i think ambassador become e pick erg wa that the collective issues of water or safety is another the way to get speakinterfaith grou serving the community. builds resilience. there is a new initiative to
save the jordan river, for example, where it's understand that all the faiths value creation, but the particular iconic river jordan is at risk of dying. it's basically running out of water. filled mostly with sewage, surrounded by mine fields. so inter-religious groups will take common cause and say how do we save the river, work on issues of water and environment together. and that is another way of building relationships and fabric on issues of common concern. and then additionally will, i think we've seen it as arsalan said about his office, when atrocities have broken out, we have dispatched dip pllomats an tried to pull together religious leaders to try to work with local religious leaders. we're seeing it in nigeria and a lot of cases. but it's been done almost at an
ad hoc level. we didn't have the capacity to create a team literate in engagement so that it can be more effective. so what would a rapid response mediation team look like that is in fact in this category of religious engage the. h how does one do that in reaction to crises, fwru but frd ongoing capacity.the. how does one do that in reaction to crises, but from and ongoing capacity. so this would require 2ki7 low matts and religious leaders working more closely together to learn each other's language of conflict resolution as well as skrip includ ral and faith-based reasoning. so these are three examples. >> before we go on, i'd like to understand, the department of state already has sort of an emergency reaction, religious mediation team? >> no. that's why i say i'd like to build the capacity. a special envoy has been dispatched to do this work and to good effect.
what's interesting, when we see this working, people speaking their own language and being able too engage with religious leaders successfully, we should be doing more of it. >> if i might add just to build on that, i think obviously every situation is different and you have to understand the context of a particular conflict. in many cases, religion is not actually the source of the conflict. it just happens to sometimes overlap with the political lines or other check or whatever factors are driving that conflict. so to say that a certain situationcheck or whatever factors are driving that conflict. so to say that a certain situation is religious violence glosses over some of the factors. so that's important to recognize because when you intervene or when you engage with actors on
the ground who are -- whether they're a party to the con tlikt flikt or not, the role this they can play is spornimportant. an example is in the central african republic, where state department's assessment is it's not a religious conflict we are say, it's a conflict being driven by various lpolitical factor, but you there is overlap in terms of religious lines. and so back in april, rashad has visited the central african republic and he brought with him relichb religious leaders from the united states. representing the catholic community, muslim community and protestant community. and they met there on the ground with religious leaders who had already been working together to
promote peace and to end the violence between the communities. the archbishop and leader of the muslim community there were working together and various articles about the impressive work that they had done trying to promote peace and trying to prevent their communities from being sucked into the violence that was going on there. and so the idea of sending this delegation was to highlight the efforts that these religious leaders were already on the ground and to try to provide them with some solidarity and support from other reluen krus gro religious groups interested in helping. and some of the members have gone back. some of the groups that they were affiliated with like catholic relief services have increased their assistance in ways. there was one group part of the delegation, network of
traditional and religious leaders that has visited a couple of times and they're working along with other international partners including the king abdallah international center for interfaith dialogue, oic, on promoting intra-faith mediation among the muslim community and central african republic which was divided by some people who were in favor of working with the christian communities towards peace and some groups who were essentially writing off those efforts. and so as a result of that delegation, there are mediation efforts at the intara-religious level, as well. so that is just one example in which you can bring parties together and hose parties might have different resources that they can bring to bear on the situation and try to help promote some of the efforts that are already ongoing on the ground. and one other thing, as well, a
lot of the situations we're facing right now where there is conflict with the element of religion involved, it's often a case where you have kind of a minority interpretation or minority group that is claiming to speak on behalf of the larger religion. and the majority of those co-religionists or people who follow that religion feel that their religion has been hijacked by this group and misinterpreted or abused or taken advantage of. and not just for islam, but i think you you see that in certain cases in sri lanka where you have buddhist communities, certain groups promoting violence and other co-religionists who are not supportive of that. so i think there is another set of tools or factors that can be employed in order to highlight the voices of the mainstream
members of those communities or the religious leaders who represent most of the members of that religious community who whose religion may be abused in certain ways. and an example of that recently is in nigeria where you have boko haram essentially organized around a particular ideology, they're exceptionally just kind of a mafia group run by this guy who is claiming to act on a religious basis, but it's completely not a relimg krus basis. and there are religious leaders who were speaking out very openly, but over the years were targeted for assassination and other intimidation by this group. and so their voices were silenced. and so one thing that we try do at the state department after the kidnapping of the school girls was to have a video conference where we through our embassy had a lot of the senior religious leaders in the muslim
community via video conference link with some of the religious leadership in the u.s. in order to ask them what kind of assistance can you get. we know that you've been speaking out on this group, but what can you do. and so the state department convened these individuals and then they have gone on their open and are trying to organize an international conference where you have international islamic leaders assisting some of the nigerian islamic leaders on raising their voice to counter groups bike blike boko . so another example of how the government can use its convening authority to bring people together who share the same goals and hopefully help the situation on the ground. >> we've heard a lot of wisdom from the two speakers and i have a little to add. but let me say a couple of things. one is that most conflicts are immediately distinguished by the
we/they syndrome. the we/they syndrome then seeks to develop all of the rationale, all of the lodge i gilogic, all will logic, of why it should be perpetuated and that my side should win. and it is in that cycle that hits to historically religion has played a lonarge role or rationalizing point of view thin one way or another. and the conflicts are often other over other questions. it's to resolve some other problem. conflict over space, conflict
over doing business, a conflict over running a country. many are power centered in their own way. and therefore religion in an interesting way can play a remedial role as well as an aggravating role. particularly the more the leadership vests itself in the clothing of religion, the more it should be susceptible to religious interpretation to help resolve the problem. at least one can start with that presumption. next there are two or three levels where this can work and you've heard examples from us of all of them. but one of those is inter-religious dialogue using religious leaders and their influence as a major way to effect the movement of the problem toward resolution, whatever that might be. it's been interesting in the
history or put it this way the history of nonamerican/iranian relations that to some extent religious differences have been high. on the other hand, particularly on the iranian side, the respect for religious leaders from the other side has been well above their tolerance for the political leaders on the other side in part because of a feeling that people of religion may be people of the book have enough in common to be able to bridge the differences and they share some common sense of value, some common sense of devotion to a deity, that they can see as having common put this way role and interest in their religious lives. and that's important. the second is obviously how those in the political sphere, diplomatic sphere, can be
informed and make effective use of their understanding as a way to bridge the differences. whether it is with the help of religious people engaged or on their own or basically with own or basically from counselors from their religious side and that in itself is significant and important. and the third is because the public always plays a huge role, much of what is done in put it this way, agitating and making worse foreign affairs problems is done in the name of domestic politics, unfortunately. we may say democracy is simply splendid and i agree it is. but democracy, puz it this way, performed by the people committed to the wrong values is as hard a problem as -- who wants to say to you, my people
won't go for this, i can't sell it. so in both cases we have a common issue, so if in fact, the public believes, put it this way, myths, lies, falsehoods about the other side, then you have a huge problem in trying to work with that and if that has a religious quotient and it often does, even if it is only a broadly accepted common set of moral values almost all of which extended from religious tradition. then you can use that as ways to find your way through the situation. i think you have described those all we have talked about. but it's an effort to give some structure and context to these things that i say what i said. >> questions from the audience? who would like to be first? back here. >> thank you, i'm leon
winetraub, i would like to follow up with some of the comments expangded to the slaumic state afbtd i'm wondering if you think it would be appropriate, helpful and possible if authoritative islamic leaders who can speak on a global stage would issue some kind of statement, or doctrine saying people who use the tactics of the islamic state are boca haram don't represent the islamic state. and if in fact it would be appropriate, helpful and possible, is there a role of us in there?
>> a very strong statement kind of rejecting what isis has claimed to established and the group in and of itself, there have been a number of international islamic sclholars who are also issued statements condemning the group and -- there is an international union of islamic scholars that has a nib number of senior similars, that group issued a statement and a number of personalities have also issued statements so i think there is or there has been those kinds of statements out there, not just on isis, but on other groups like al qaeda and boca haram and others.
we just don't necessarily get it reporting as much as much or the media here might not highlight it as much. but i think those statements are certainly there and that position has been expressed by some of these senior leaders. >> do you have any comment, jerry? >> just really quickly. >> what ashlan said about the lack of knowledge in this country is a serious issue in many ways. we don't hear much of the good news, particularly from the islamic side, as to how, put it this way, main stream leaders in islam treat the particular problems and it has been a problem before 9/11 but it because certainly seriously aggravated. my greatest fear in 9/11 was not another attack, it was that we would launch a war against islam, and president bush shared that but was never quite capable
of taking it fully into account, i think. but i have been very concerned about that and to some extent, it's true, the christians denominations in the united states are aware, practically, of what's being said and for the first time ashan here has put it out in it's various manifestations that is easy to understand. but you wonder why in effect we have the ideas that we have, and i think that partly it is ignorance about what else is going on in other parts of the world and we're marvelously served by a highly competitive press whose principal interest is bad news. >> jay? >> i think that question begs another one, which theirs might have commentary on, and that's the role of media in this. i think media like religion can be remedial or aggravating, to use ambassador pickering's words, so what is the parallel
of the communication channel call religion and religious leaders and groups, and media, social and traditional media. so when we're seeing the viral threat -- balancing the free speech and allowing the internet to be the internet. so these are very serious kes for us because people are starting to fight their battles with violent language online and people tend to use different types of media. for example there was a recent study i was being briefed on related to extremists and exclusivists who send to be violent refer to youtube and the graphic nature and the violence that can be generated by showing the very violent pictures of killings and beheadings and mass shootings. and then on the other end of the spectrum, those nice people who want us all to live together in love and peace, tend to just
retweet, use twitter to retweet positive news stories, so it might be in the middle of a concert and a call to prayer with justin bieber, it will interrupt the comforts, but those are repeats of nice pluralists who want us all to get along. then in between, there's a group that might seem more tribal who use facebook or blogs like ngos. so you have to look at how the continue yum of -- how is it we have a strategy on that front to counter viral spread of violence online.
communities and practice and also stand against something which are thing beyond the pale, i think it was interesting to see the vatican and pope francis saying that al qaeda -- it does just military action, that's a very strong and probably unexpected statement coming up this week. >> tomorrow on washington journal, dr. gavin mack gregor
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